State supe unveils algebra plan

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell unveiled his “Algebra I Success Initiative” today in response to the state Board of Education’s recent decision to require all eighth-graders to take Algebra I starting in three years.

O’Connell opposed the decision but said in a statement that “given the State Board’s decision, I believe it is imperative we focus on ensuring our students are now given the resources they need to successfully reach this mandate.”

His plan calls for $3.1 billion in state funding to lower seventh- and eighth-grade math class sizes, increase instructional time, expand afterschool and weekend tutorial programs, provide professional development and instructional materials to teachers, and recruit and retain quality instructors, among other things. Continue Reading


Deadline reminder

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following our coverage of local elections that the candidate filing period is tomorrow.

Just a reminder that while the deadline is 5 p.m. Friday for most candidates, the deadline is 4 p.m. for those planning to run for the Union City City Council.

Union City’s City Hall is closed every other Friday, including this week. But because of the filing deadline, the city clerk’s office will stay open tomorrow for special hours.

A reader called me yesterday to ask where people need to go to pull papers. Basically, if you want to run for a school board, Washington Hospital board or pretty much any race other than city council, you can file through the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office in Oakland.

Fremont and Union City City Council candidates can file through their city halls.

image from Joseph Dath's site at flickr.com

Dropout rates are in

A story in today’s paper talks about the latest student dropout rates, with figures for local schools, districts, the county and state.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have space in the print edition to compare results from the past two years. (Clarification: I’m really talking about dropout rates for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years because the state is always one year behind in reporting the results.)

What makes this year’s report noteworthy is that, for the first time, it was based on a new student tracking system that makes the data more accurate. Continue Reading


State special schools receive attention

A bill to better inform families of students with disabilities of the services provided through the California School for the Blind and the California School for the Deaf passed through the state Assembly today on a 63-0 vote.

The bill, by Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico (D-Newark), now heads to the governor for approval. For more information, click here.


We got it right!

UPDATE: The East Bay Express has corrected their mistake online as of Friday (see link below).

In Thursday’s The Argus, we will have a round-up of Newark-related election news, including the outcome of retiring city schools Superintendent John Bernard’s try for a seat on the county board of education.

Barring a possible editing mistake, the story will explain that Bernard came in second place in a three-way race for the Area Three trustee seat in Oakland.

Other newspapers, namely the East Bay Express and Berkeley Daily Planet, reported on their Web sites Tuesday that Bernard would head to a runoff in November because winner Ken Berrick got less than 50 percent of the vote.

But county Deputy Registrar Cynthia Cornejo assured me that the seat is chosen by plurality, meaning the candidate with the most votes wins. So there’s no runoff.

So wherever those other reporters got their information, it’s wrong, unless the official source is wrong. Maybe they just assumed there would be a runoff, but the old journalism adage is “check your facts” — as in with the registrar’s office.

So who cares about Measure K, we’re keeping the Newark news straight. (Now I just hope nobody finds an error in my story.)

Here’s some more about Bernard, if you want it.


Huskies #1

husky.jpgCongratulations to the Washington High varsity cheerleading squad. The Huskies took 1st place Sunday in the Large Varsity Show Cheer Novice competition at the 2008 United Spirit Association Spirit Nationals in Anaheim.

Irvington High’s squad finished 5th out of 19 teams in the same competition.

Kennedy’s varsity squad finished 2nd in the Small Varsity Show Cheer Novice competition.

Washington also finished 6th out of 77 squads in the Group Stunt competition and 4th out of 15 squads in the Junior Varsity Cheer Novice competition.

Thanks to Jet Lacebal for the results. Newark Memorial also participated in the nationals, but we haven’t gotten its results yet.


You go, girls!

Four cheerleading teams from the Tri-City area are headed to a national competition this weekend in Anaheim. Of course, the teams are always jazzed to go, but it’s particularly exciting for Kennedy and Newark Memorial high schools, who qualified for nationals for the first time.

As a send-off, the three teams in Fremont – Kennedy, Irvington and Washington high schools – showed off their routines during a special exhibition Tuesday night. Here are photos from the event: Continue Reading


The Year of Education?

2008-baby.jpgWhen it comes to the Governator’s plan to gut public ed funding by $4.4 billion statewide, very few school districts would go unscathed.

According to the California Budget Project, a nonprofit organization that pushes for budget reforms that benefit lower-income residents, if Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget goes through, Fremont Unified would be stripped of $17.4 million next fiscal year, while New Haven Unified would lose $7.1 million and Newark Unified would say so long to $3.9 million. That would be a loss of $561 to $569 per student in these districts.

Furthermore, LA Unified, the biggest loser, could kiss goodbye to $420.8 million ($664/student).

Miraculously, two local agencies – Desert Center Unified and Silver Fork Elementary – would get through next year with zero cuts, although something tells me these are really small districts.

To view the CBP’s data, which compares each district’s projected losses, click here.

So does anyone still think this is the Year of Education, as the governor once referred to 2008?

Image from Nazza3a’s site at flickr.com/photos/special_one/2152162942/